Swara Bhasker Agrees Raj In DDLJ Was Problematic, But Insists We Need To “Learn And Change.” Right You Are, Señorita!
Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge recently celebrated 25 years of being an iconic part of Bollywood. It happens to be the longest running film in Indian cinema. And it’s lead pair, Raj and Simran are Bollywood romance’s gold standard, just like the on-screen pairing of the two actors that played them, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol. #DDLJ25 was a huge Internet event for us desis, with a bit of both, our unwavering love for the film and our inability to understand the hype around it, being adequately represented. Several non-fans pointed out how the film romanticises the wrong things, especially when it comes to the behaviour of its male characters, like the late Amrish Puri’s Baldev Singh and SRK’s Raj Malhotra. And what do you know, Swara Bhasker agrees with the criticism. In fact, she insists we make it a teaching moment.
Also Read: 25 Years of DDLJ: The SRK And Kajol Film Is One Of The Few Bollywood Romances That Still Filters Through My Cynicism
While we were all waxing poetic about how Raj and Simran’s love was one for the ages (yours truly included), there were many people who remarked about DDLJ’s popularity was just a well-marketed campaign. That the film was said to retain its ‘charm’ and ‘appeal’ even now seemed bollocks, because wasn’t Raj a total creep? Like, sure, he was romantic at intervals, but he did do some questionable things that would never fly right now, in movies or IRL.
When Swara Bhasker shared a tweet about DDLJ, Raj and Simran, a Twitter user pointed out how Raj was being celebrated as this great lover when in fact he behaved inappropriately with Simran on several occasions. At one point, after the ‘Zara Sa Jhoom Loon Main’ song, when Simran wakes up in Raj’s bed, he even leads her on to believe (as a joke) they had sex without proper consent because she was clearly drunk. So why were women celebrating this guy?
Raj does the following to Simran:
1. Lie that he raped her as a joke
2. Tears her clothes in public (accidentally, but who pulls a woman by the back of her dress anyway?)
3. Forces her to dance, and in the process gropes her and feels up her bare back
Why do women love creeps? https://t.co/soPaiprJl0
— YogiMan (@yogimanthefirst) October 20, 2020
Also Read: To Mark 25 Years Of DDLJ, A Statue Of Shah Rukh Khan And Kajol Will Be Unveiled In London’s Leicester Square!
Good question, isn’t it? Most of the Bollywood, of for that matter, even Hollywood heroes from old 90s rom-coms that we obsess over do have some questionable traits. They aren’t always overt. Sometimes, it takes someone else pointing it out for us to realise that casual sexism was very much the theme and we fell for the romanticised version of it. We could play the blame game here, but the truth is, it’s so easy to get pulled into this adoration because maybe at that time, we didn’t no better. And now, this romanticised character has cemented a place in our psyche that we still, even though guiltily, love. For example, you can say now that Romeo and Juliet acted stupidly because they were kids. But the potency of their romance instantly made us fall for the tale of star-crossed lovers, did it not?
Swara Bhasker’s reply to the tweet was much inspired from this very human trait. She agreed that, unfortunately, one of the biggest romantic hero of our time was indeed a problematic character. But this could be a teaching moment for Bollywood and us, where we learn from the mistakes we made with Raj Malhotra and do better with the men we idolise in our cinema today.
Sadly u r are right.. I mean abt what all Raj does.. This is precisely the power of #Bollywood right? It makes stalking seem romantic. And we all are influenced by it – sometimes in the form of nostalgia & sometimes despite our own best intent. We all need to learn & change 🙂 🙂 https://t.co/LTXIDMz3NP
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) October 20, 2020
And indeed, I’m proud to say that Bollywood is coming of age in so many ways. Look at Ayushmann Khurrana’s filmography, and the kind of men he portrays on screen, or the roles by Vicky Kaushal (Lust Stories), Rajkummar Rao (Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga), Jassie Gill (Panga) and you’ll know what I mean. Except for a few misses, *coughs* Kabir Singh *coughs*, we’re slowly inching towards portraying men who know that you don’t need to stalk a woman, or give your being a ‘Hindustani mard’ as a character certificate to vouch for you being a nice guy. You could just accord respect to women and it’ll happen naturally.
Despite her clarifying her stance, there were still those who harped on about how she thought stalking was romantic and that she was condoning all the questionable antics by the character in the film.
Can’t have any constructive conversations on Twitter. Silly sensationalist reportage of an interaction with a Twitter user. Peeps relax! I can love @iamsrk & #DDLJ can be an all time favourite film (as it is for me) & YET one can acknowledge problematic strains. We learn! pic.twitter.com/YhW9TM3wb4
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) October 21, 2020
Sigh. Me, I love DDLJ too. It’s one of the few old Bollywood romances that doesn’t make me say, “Yeh kya stupidity hai!” I also am a sucker for rom-com clichés, the grand airport/train station climaxes where the hero/heroine does the big romantic gesture. On some days, I just want to bundle up and watch Pride & Prejudice or holiday movies, or read the Twilight series, all riddled with men who aren’t exactly the brightest of bulbs when it comes to overcoming their patriarchal upbringing. I can hate Kabir Singh and still love its entire music album, and appreciate the tender moments between Kabir and Preeti, because there was love there. But wanna know the magic? I can do all that AND call out problematic behaviour constructively.
Things don’t have to be black and white. So listen to what Señorita Swara Bhasker said. Learn and change!